Homemade Garam Masala
1 T. cardamom seeds (discard the green hulls, or set aside for making tea or use in an infusion)
1 2″ long cinnamon stick, coarsely broken apart
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 of a whole nutmeg
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp mace powder
1 piece star anise
1 bay leaf
Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. Add all of the spices and toast for about 2 minutes. Pour spices into a clean bowl and allow to cool for some time, at least 10-15 minutes. Grind mixture in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle). You may need to do this in multiple batches, in which case, make sure to blend the ground spice mixture well.
Spice mixture will remain very fresh in an airtight jar for 6-8 months.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The range of culinary emotions I’ve experienced living here in Germany for the past three months span the whole gamut: rage that I cannot find dried ancho chiles, miso, or beef other than stew meat or flank… joy that I have access to such a wide variety of sausages, charcuterie, and cuts I typically don’t see in the USA… and the sauerkraut! fresh and delicious!
Well, the other day I decided I wanted to make an Indian themed dinner out of two of my favorite cookbooks “5 Spices, 50 Dishes” by Ruta Kahate, and “Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey. With ‘5 Spices, 50 Dishes’ I was well set — her recipes never call for any spices other than the 5 she outlines in the introduction (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and mustard seeds). However, in Jaffrey’s book, I kept coming across recipes calling for garam masala. So, I wrote ‘garam masala” on my grocery list, and headed to the store.
And guess what?! Surprise, surprise…. no garam masala to be found ANYWHERE! I checked the grocery store, the specialty ‘markthalle’, the organic aka ‘bio’ market, and the international market… and found nothing…. sad, sad nothing.
So, what to do? well, I thought to myself, I’ve made tofu from scratch, sauerkraut from scratch, pickles from scratch, taco mix from scratch, charcuterie from scratch, ricotta from scratch… why not a simple spice mixture? So I embarked on Garam Masala from scratch
The result was fragrant and delicious. And, if you happen to have all the spices on hand (or something close to it), it’s incredibly inexpensive to make. Might as well grind up those fresh spices you have now rather than wait for a rainy day that may never come… (unless you’re in Hannover and it snows on March 24th…)
I can’t say I’ll never go back to store bought garam masala again — I was very fond of my grocery store back in SF with it’s extensive spice selection — but this recipe is simple and certainly serves a need when one is in a place when “typical” culinary items cannot be purchased.